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Small-Scale Composting with Worms: Vermiculture in the City

Turning kitchen scraps into valuable fertilizer might sound unrealistic to a household in the city. Aren’t composters usually on a large piece of land? No! Vermiculture means using worms to break down food scraps. Their stealth and speed mean you can compost right in your kitchen, balcony or rooftop! Small-scale vermiculture is one way that an urban dweller can help save the environment. It also creates excellent fertilizer for plants, and it’s a fun project. The problem with tossing kitchen scraps in the trash is that mixed garbage stinks! It attracts pests and takes energy to get moved out of the city. Once it has been hauled away, that trash either goes to a landfill or an incinerator. Neither is good for the environment. Landfills waste space and generate methane, a greenhouse gas. Incinerators pollute the air and produce toxic ash.

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The Differences Between Biogas and Composting for Managing Organic Waste

Both biogas and composting turn wasted organic material into something useful. Biogas makes methane, which is collected and burned to generate electricity. Composting makes organic fertilizer, which is used by gardeners, golf course managers and farmers to grow plants. Let’s dig into depth about their similarities and differences. Scale: All Sizes Both systems can work on any scale. Biogas is usually done on a large scale by a municipality or energy company. Some adventurous households tackle it themselves with DIY biogas generators. Composting can be done on a small scale in a household, for an entire apartment building or campus, or on a massive municipal basis. Inputs: Similar Both processes need organic matter, such as kitchen scraps, left-over vegetables

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Should We Use Biogas or Composting to Solve Food Waste Problems?

Did you know that when food rots without oxygen, it creates a greenhouse gas called methane? Methane is a greenhouse gas that causes climate change. If the food goes to a landfill and it deprived of oxygen, the methane releases into the atmosphere. It can build up and can cause explosions, sometimes it is burned off for safety. If the food is put into a composter, the aerobic process turns the wasted food into organic fertilizer. And if it goes to a biogas plant, an anaerobic (low-oxygen) process turns it into methane, which is burned in large quantities to produce electricity. Approximately a third of edible food in the United States is wasted. This is around 20 pounds of food per person per month. It’s wasted at all points in food production: at the farm, in processing, in transit, at the store and in the home. The only part that most of us can control is in

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Should I Buy Compost or Make My Own Compost?

Here at Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, we sell an awful lot of finished compost to people who want to fertilize their plants, gardens and lawns naturally. We also sell huge quantities of composting worms for making compost. Sometimes, folks ask us, “Should I buy worms to make my own compost, or order finished compost?” The answer to this question depends on several factors.

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What Can I feed my Worms?

A frequently asked question if not the most asked question I get is, “What can I feed my worms?!” So I have decided to come up with a basic list of what you can feed your worms. I will also include a list of things to keep out of the worm bin. Things to feed your worms include: Fruits Vegetables Paper Squash and Pumpkin Eggshells Coffee Bread Pasta Tea Bags Grains Hair Lawn Clippings (aged, fresh clippings may heat up and kill the worms) Animal Manure (not dog or cat) Here is a very basic list of what to not put in the worm bin: Salty Foods Citrus Spicy Foods Oils Foods with preservatives meat dairy There are a few other things to keep in mind when feeding your worms. The smaller the matter the easier and faster for the worms to compost.  Chopping large chunks of food to feed worms is recommended but not necessary. You can puree, freeze, or microwave food scraps before adding them to your worm composter to help break down material. Make sure that food has returned to room temperature before adding it to your worm bin. Try to keep a balance of browns and greens. Browns and greens are nicknames for different types of organic matter to use in composting. Browns are high in carbon or carbohydrates, thus they are organic carbon sources. These foods supply the energy that most soil organisms need to survive. Carbons also help absorb the offensive odors and capture and help …

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How Does Composting Reduce Trash Problems?

Separating recyclables from the trash helps the environment, but you could help even more by composting. Kitchen scraps, yard waste and even scrap paper can be composted right in your home or yard. Reducing household trash can have a big impact on the environment. You can compost in a pile or bin, and you can add Red Worms to speed up the process. When the process is complete, you can harvest fertilizer for your garden and house plants. When organic matter is separated and composted, you have less trash in the landfill, less incineration, and fewer pests rummaging through the household garbage bins. Less Trash Hauled Off to the Landfill Waste that is sent to the landfill harms the planet. Many landfills use

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Start Composting on Earth Day April 22

The best day of the year to start a composting program in your home, school or workplace is April 22. This is Earth Day, when we all show our support for environmental protection. Collecting organic trash and composting it helps the environment in many ways. And it’s easy to do! When you toss an apple core into the trash, it gets mixed in with all the other trash. In a few days, you have a stinky mess in a sealed plastic bag for the trash collector to pick up. The trash is either incinerated or put into a landfill. Burning mixed trash creates toxic gasses, and the resulting ash is handled as toxic waste. Landfills produce methane, a greenhouse gas. And landfills eventually come back to haunt us. If you put that same apple core into a composting

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How to Get Your Worm Composting Bin Ready in the Spring

compost in greenhouse

As Spring approaches, your vermicomposting bin will start to need some attention. Take a look inside your compost bin. You should see dark, crumbly “dirt” – this is worm castings. It’s the perfect fertilizer for your plants. Here are the steps you should take to get your vermicomposting bin ready in the Spring. Time It Dig around. If you see a significant amount of undigested scraps in the bin, you may need to give your worms more time to break things down. This is especially true for outdoor bins, because composting slows down significantly in cold temperatures. Composting worms do best above 55 degrees. If there are undigested food scraps, and you desperately need completed compost now, you can harvest whatever completed compost is in there. Harvest Completed Compost Most of the worms, undigested food scraps, sticks,

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How to Separate Worms from Compost and Bedding

red worms in compost

There are several reasons why you might want to separate your composting worms from their bedding. Perhaps it is time to harvest the finished compost. Or maybe something has gone REALLY wrong in the bin, and you need to start your bin over again. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm offers several techniques for separating your worms from most of their bedding. If your worms have been munching on scraps for more than a few months, there should be plenty of “black gold” (worm castings) in the bin. Worm castings are an all-natural, nutrient-rich fertilizer for the garden and houseplants. They are also filled with friendly microbes that are good for the soil. Once in a while, a worm bin

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Lasagna Composting (a.k.a. Sheet Composting) is Super Easy!

building-soil-with-lasagna-gardening-gardening

Upon reading the title, you would probably start thinking about a compost pile that creates ready-made lasagna or produces lasagna ingredients. Well, you’re absolutely wrong with at least the former assumption. Lasagna composting or sheet composting is a horticultural method deriving its name from the process and style of layering your compost. It may sound appetizing but it’s basically a procedure that helps establish a new garden bed with the richest of soil, that’s where the assumption that it produces lasagna ingredients is partially true. Lasagna composting is an organic gardening method that helps save time.  Imagine all the benefits of composting with almost none of the work. Lasagna composting involves spreading all the materials directly on the garden in layers thin enough that they break down on their own with no watering or turning. How wonderful! Some things to consider before attempting this type of composting: This is an ideal early-fall technique, so you will have optimal soil by spring. Lasagna composting takes six months or more, so it’s not a good strategy if you want to plant soon. This style of composting isn’t exactly the most attractive way to compost. Most homesteaders won’t care, but if you’re homesteading on a suburban lot with a picky homeowner’s association, you may catch some grief. Creating a lasagna compost can certainly help save you some time versus traditional composting as it doesn’t require any digging, tilling or removing of sod. It may sound a bit sensational but it’s also quite effective. …

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